Monthly Archives: October 2016

Live-Blogging the Third 2016 Presidential Debate

This is it–by which I don’t mean “It all comes down to this,” but rather, “You’re already looking at the election, folks: An increasingly-surreal, indeed improbable succession of humiliations for Donald Trump as he is revealed to be an even more depraved human being than all but the most-creative of us had imagined.”  (Maybe this is why Stephen King of all people seems to be horrified that millions of people have already supported Donald Trump for President.)  I know I could draw the wrath of…Whatever from High Atop the Thing, but after those 4 days that shook the world that opened on a Friday with the release of a 2005 hot mic video in which Trump bragged about being able to force himself on women, which featured an alternately tense and morally-obscene Second Debate performance on a Sunday and closed on a Monday with Trump threatening to turn his voters against elected Republicans who didn’t support him, tonight’s final Debate of the 2016 Presidential Election is more likely to serve as an effective public flogging than as a source of edification for the voting public…Oh, and there’s the dozen women who have accused Donald Trump of forcing himself of them over the years, often with details.  Don’t worry; the Christian Right will vote for him.

10:28 pm: The last question is about the national debt, “which hasn’t been asked about before tonight,” Chris Wallace notes in an aside.

Secretary Clinton promises to “go where the money is”–to raise taxes on the rich.  Trump proposes a large upper-income tax cut, which Secretary Clinton notes would greatly contribute to the national debt.

Trump calls the Affordable Care Act a big contributor to the national debt; Secretary Clinton clarifies that the Affordable Care Act cut Medicare spending, and that repealing the Affordable Care Act would compound Medicare’s structural budgetary insolvency.

10:19 pm: FOX News moderator Chris Wallace refers to Trump’s previous Debate comment that “Aleppo has fallen” to the Assad Regime; Wallace corrects Trump, noting that Aleppo is divided between the Assad Regime and many Syrian rebel factions and still very hotly-contested.

I think Chris Wallace might be the agent of an Establishment Republican stealth operation to undermine Trump on front of this election’s last truly national audience.

10:05 pm: Again, Trump has his “Colonel Jessup, did you order the code red?” moment, acknowledging that he doesn’t pay Federal income tax due to extremely favorable Federal tax treatment of real estate tax returns.  Secretary Clinton gets off what is likely to be the zinger of the night: “Half of illegal immigrants pay Federal income taxes–which means that half of illegal immigrants pay more Federal income tax than a billionaire!”

9:55 pm: Secretary Clinton speaks eloquently on the abuse that women–all women–have had to confront from bad-mannered men.  She speaks with rare fervor for this debate and manages to narrate the subject of Trump’s alleged mistreatment of women entirely in her favor…if that were necessary.

9:52 pm: Trump categorically denies that he groped any of his dozen accusers.  He suggests that they are paid agents of the Clinton campaign…and then accuses President Obama and Secretary Clinton of paying agents provocateurs to start violence at his rallies!  He even comes up with uncorroborated details.  That’s an odd claim to just toss out in the middle of the Debate.

9:40 pm: Trump actually defends his loose talk of mid-summer that the United States’ wealthier allies should pay more for their own defense; it’s really a terrible and potentially-damaging argument.  If Trump actually won the election he would walk into a diplomatic quagmire as he promised–publicly–to compel our many allies to carry their weight in the common defense.

9:30 pm: A friend watching the Debate notes that, while Secretary Clinton leans too hard on concerns about apparent Russian governments, and Trump actually misses an opportunity to criticize Clinton for sounding like a conspiracy theorist.  Clinton makes the best of her misstep by focusing on Russian aggression, a subject where Trump is very weak with the hawks in his own party.

9:23 pm: Secretary Clinton goes in hard against Donald Trump on immigration: She notes that Trump’s combination of a proposed “deportation force” and zero-tolerance policy towards illegal immigrants, along with fringe proposals to rescind birthright citizenship would precede the deportation of 15 million people from the United States.  Trump just flubs this subject completely: This is not the right venue to warn us that America is being “overrun.”

9:20 pm: Trump equates illegal immigration with heroin-smuggling in New Hampshire.  This is difficult to comment on, people.

9:15 pm: Oh, that’s interesting: Trump answers a question on abortion by referring to “partial-birth” abortion as “rip(ping) the baby out of the womb.”  Clinton refers to this as “empty rhetoric”; she should have called it “hyperbolic violent imagery.”

9:12 pm: Clinton and Trump both affirm that they take the Second Amendment seriously.

9:05 pm: The first question is about the Supreme Court: The next President will likely appoint 2, maybe 3 Supreme Court Justices.  What kind of judges will you appoint, and how will this reflect your views on the Constitution?

Clinton and Trump both give safe answers: Clinton focuses on judicial principle, while Trump mentions having a list of candidate appointees and a Pro-Life judicial litmus test.

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Live-Blogging the Second 2016 Presidential Debate

Well, this was promising to be a make-or-break moment for Donald Trump before Friday’s revelation of a 2005 hot mic video of the Republican Presidential candidate bragging to Billy Bush about being able to grope women because he’s a celebrity.  Now that we have heard from the Donald that he intends to make an issue of the former President Clinton’s affairs, I think this is a break-or-break moment for Trump.

10:30 pm: To make his case for trade protection, Trump says that China is dumping steel in the United States to put American steel companies out of business; Secretary Clinton says that Trump has bought that steel himself to build his buildings.  That’s a relatively mild takedown of Trump tonight, and Trump lets it go unanswered.

10:11 pm: “Why can’t we do something secretly, where we knock-out their leadership?”
–Donald Trump

You mean like when President Obama and Secretary Clinton oversaw the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011? What were you doing around that time, Donald?

9:54 pm: I’m sorry, I can hardly do this because I can’t focus on what’s being said.  Donald Trump has rambled through a number of responses.  I think the most-unbelievable was when he was asked what he would do about Islamophobia due to fears of terrorism and religious bigotry.  In response, Trump said that Muslims need to do more to report on what other Muslims are doing.  He also averred, when asked, on whether he would ban Muslims from entering the United States as he had previously promised, that it would simply be necessary to subject them to “extreme vetting.”  Secretary Clinton expresses horror at the idea of an ideological test for suspect populations trying to enter the United States.  Live by the bigotry, die by the bigotry.

9:25 pm: Trump gets the first (though weakest) applause of the night by asserting that Secretary Clinton is glad that he isn’t President because she would be in jail.  In response to this, Anderson Cooper asks the audience not to applaud.  “You’re just wasting time.”  Take that, undecided voters!

9:20 pm: Donald Trump just threatened to use the Department of Justice against Secretary Clinton of he became President.  He just threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to go after his politics opponent.  “A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for an arbitrarily-prosecutorial government.”  What a catastrophe this debate is for him.

9:16 pm: Donald Trump brings up President Clinton’s affairs and accuses Secretary Clinton of vilifying the womem he had affairs with.  Clinton responds with, “When they go low, you go high.”  She brilliantly moves on to Trump’s vicious comments about racial and religious minorities, saying that this is about the way Donald Trump bullies anyone who he considers vulnerable.

9:09 pm: This is a town hall debate: Undecided voters ask their questions.  Anderson Cooper asks the second question, regarding the creepy boasts he made about groping women.  Cooper asks Trump if he has actually sexually assaulted women.  Donald Trump doesn’t actually answer the question.  We just saw the election decided, just now.

9:00 pm: (A friend watching the debate stage before the candidates come out): “Anderson Cooper always looks disgusted.”

Live-Blogging the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) may make former Vice President Al Gore look like his old college roommate Tommy Lee Jones, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence gives off such an aw-shucks good-ol’-days vibe that even his hair is White, but we must have TOTAL COVERAGE!

10:35 pm: The Vice Presidential Debate closes-out: Senator Kaine notes both the professionalism and the respect commanded by Secretary Clinton; Governor Pence refrains on discontent with the results of the policy status quo at home and abroad, and offers Donald Trump as a multipurpose delivered.

In closing, Governor Pence has an admirably easygoing and calm demeanor; it’s almost enough for you to forget that he repeatedly referred to millions of illegal immigrants as “aliens” and angrily implicated them, and Syrian refugees just trying to survive, en masse in criminality.

10:22 pm: Senator Kaine is asked about the challenge of allowing his religion to inform his approach to government; he had an excellent and frank answer about being a Catholic and opposing the death penalty, and being elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which sustains the death penalty.  He says that he swore to uphold the laws of Virginia, and that he did so.

It’s interesting that when abortion comes up in the venue of this debate, he does not mention it as being a burden to his living of his religion even in running with an ardent Pro-Choicer in Secretary Clinton.

Governor Pence has an equally interesting but more policy-focused and less ethically-challenging answer on his Pro-Life views.  He implies, importantly, that he has a lot of support in this from the Indiana Legislature, and notes that to be Pro-Life one must be emphatically pro-adoption.

10:20 pm: “Governor Pence, I will give you 20 seconds to respond, but I would like to remind you gentlemen that the question was about North Korea.”  Ms. Quijano does have a surprisingly taxing job before her with a debate that is following its own frenzied logic.

10:20 pm: Well-done, Senator Kaine: While defending the work and the outside certifications of the Clinton Foundation, Kaine manages to completely-narrate 1 of Trump’s many scandals: The Trump Foundation was cited for a violation of its non-profit status in giving $2,500 to the reelection campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who subsequently dropped a massive fraud case against Trump University.

Governor Pence shakes his head and does not touch this one.

10:07 pm: Senator Kaine notes that he has mentioned inflammatory comments by Trump 6 times, and on no occasion has Governor Pence defended or even circumscribed the strange outbursts from his running mate.

I must say, when Senator Kaine observed that Donald Trump called for more nations to build nuclear weapons, and that if they should use them on other countries or if they fell into the hands of terrorists then that was on them, it was a defeat for the Trump-Pence ticket when Governor Pence couldn’t do anything but shake his head in response.  It almost looked like he was thinking, “I know, that’s really scary.”

10:00 pm: Senator Kaine again hits on Trump’s expressed admiration of Russian President-for-Life Vladimir Putin, noting that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was let go due to his shadowy connections to pro -Russian Ukrainian government officials and Russian Oligarchs; again, Governor Pence shakes his head but doesn’t respond.

This time he throws in a red-meat line: “Governor Pence has said, ‘Inarguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.'”  Ouch: Senator Kaine notes Putin’s military oppression of gays and transgender people, his repression of journalists.  “Anyone who can’t tell the difference between leadership and dictatorship needs to go back to civics class.”  Governor Pence takes exception but doesn’t explain the comment further.

9:56 pm: Senator Kaine makes a tactical use of exaggeration, asserting that Trump had called NATO “obsolete”.  Governor Pence lets the tactical exaggeration stand.

9:45 pm: Senator Kaine says, in the context of promoting Secretary Clinton’s proposed Middle East security policy, that “Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter War with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.”  Governor Pence solemnly shakes his head, but doesn’t offer a response to Kaine’s charge that Trump lacks a statesman’s temperament.

9:43 pm: During a long and surprisingly- charged exchange, Governor Pence says, “We have a deportation force: It’s called Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  For the first time in its history, it has endorsed Donald Trump for President.”

That, I think, was Governor Pence’s biggest mistake of the Debate thus far; he solidifies Hispanic and other immigrant-minority group aversion to the Trump-Pence ticket more than he gains acknowledgement from undecided voters.

9:41 pm: Senator Kaine smartly notes that Trump and Governor Pence have proposed deporting more than 11 million people from the United States, because in addition to proposing the deportation of illegal immigrants frm the United States (itself a cruel and impractical act), they want to end birthright citizenship– which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment.  Governor Pence cringes but lets the point stand.

9:24 pm: Senator Kaine and Governor Pence, in the latter’s words, “at the risk of agreeing with” each other, both talk about community policing.  Senator Kaine lands 2 good hits, referring more than once to Trump’s support for stop-and-frisk police profiling, and noting that Governor Pence actually said that we should stop making a political issue of a long history of police shootings of unarmed or crimimally uncharged Black men.  Pence’s callous dismissal of vulnerable people is far more-genteel than Trump’s tends to be, but he’s still just telling Black civil rights protesters to sit down and shut up.

9:18 pm-9:24 pm: Governor Pence gets a little more-spirited during an exchange over government spending and taxes.  Governor Pence was a close ally of now-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on taxation and spending issues; he lays the blame for underemployment (unemployment and even wage stickiness are no longer as compelling issues as they were, so Governor Pence has to proscribe the critique he made of President Obama when he was in the House of Representatives.  Basically, this whole exchange is still a barely-inflected trading of optimistic and pessimistic economic projections.

I do notice that Governor Pence seems to have less to say about Trump’s tax and spending proposals that Senator Kaine does about Secretary Clinton’s.  He is eager to go on the attack against President Obama’s record and Secretary Clinton’s proposals, but he tiptoes around the weeds that are his running mate’s economic plans.

9:13 pm: Senator Kaine really is interrupting Governor Pence too much; he almost seems to be protesting that he  can speak during what is effectively Governor Pence’s turn.  Kaine cleverly launches into a list of favorable changes under Secretary Clinton’s stewardship– the killing of Osama bin-Laden, the Iranian nuclear program deal, the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, and the drawdown of the large military deployment in Iraq.  Governor Pence gives the single hardest blow here, though, asserting that President Obama is responsible for the chaos that the Islamic State has caused in Iraq owing to his precipitous withdrawal of our forces there.

It’s not clear if that reflects on Secretary Clinton, though, as she is well-known to be more-hawkish and assertive in her foreign policy style than President Obama.

9:12 pm: Senator Kaine makes the first interruption, calling Governor Pence out for Trump’s claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a good leader.  It’s a little incongruous.

9:08 pm: Governor Pence includes among his opening remarks the aside, “–Senator Kaine, it is an honor to be here with you…”  Why, in 2016 such respect and courtesy is…positively un-Presidential!

9:07 pm: “We trust Hillary Clinton, my wife and I, with the most-important thing in our life…”  Senator Kaine compellingly ends his introductory remarks by offering his personal confidence that a President Clinton would used the Armed Forces prudently — both Kaine and Pence have a son in the Marine Corps–and that “the prospect of a Donald Trump Presidency terrifies us.”

9:05 pm: Elaine Quijano: “It truly is a pleasure to be here with both of you tonight.”  Sure, because the probability of a marathon of verbal abuse and unwarranted interruptions is very low tonight.

9:04 pm: Even moderator Elaine Quijano already seems mildly-sedated, before these 2 barn-burning running mates even stride onto the stage.

9:00 pm: Americans are notoriously overworked and sleep-deprived, so a Kaine-Pence debate may be just what we need–specifically, the cure for insomnia.